Vice President Biden is at it again. You’d think a man who claims that domestic violence legislation is his claim to political fame, would get it right on that topic at least occasionally. But, as is invariably the case as far as I can tell, Biden claims that only men hit and they only hit women. As 36 years of sound social science show, that’s utter nonsense, but, like a cuckoo clock, Biden periodically pops out to parrot the same silly claims. Here’s the latest (MN Daily, 2/16/12).
Since he’s writing in a campus newspaper (can the Vice President of the United States not manage to land an article in a higher-profile publication?) Biden’s topic is dating violence. Sadly, he knows no more about that than he does about domestic violence generally. For him, dating violence, like other forms of intimate partner abuse, is a one-way street. Biden’s narrative of women as victims and men as perpetrators remains unchanged.
Never mind that countless studies by, for example, the Liz Claiborne Institute, the University of Florida and others, show that, in dating situations among teenagers and young adults, it’s the women who do the majority of the violence. Never mind that we’ve known this for years. Biden’s got his story and he’s stickin’ to it.
Worse, he recruits his father to the task of misinforming his readers on the subject.
My dad used to say that there’s no worse sin than the abuse of power. Whether it was raising a hand to someone weaker or using any advantage to push people around, he taught me that if you saw abuse, you had an obligation to attempt to stop it.
I like what Biden’s dad used to tell him. I would even encourage Biden to follow his dad’s advice, but I suspect he’d ignore me too. The simple fact is that, like so much of the domestic violence establishment, Joe Biden happily ignores half of all DV. The necessary conclusion is that Biden doesn’t oppose DV. He’s perfectly content to let women continue attacking men. It’s only when a man lifts his hand to a woman, even in self defense, that the Veep stirs from his slumber.
That of course is doubly bad. It’s beyond disgraceful that Joe Biden doggedly refuses to acknowledge female-on-male violence. But, if you were in a generous frame of mind, you might say “well, at least he’s trying to protect women, and that’s half the battle.” Well, it’s nice to be generous, but you’d still be getting it wrong.
That’s because the DV establishment’s refusal to admit that women hit men actually contributes to injuries to women. As we know, about half of non-reciprocal DV is committed by women and about half by men. But about 70% of reciprocal DV is initiated by women. Combine that with the fact that about 65% of injuries in DV incidents are suffered by women and you come away with the inescapable conclusion that one good way to prevent injury to women is to stop them hitting first.
But of course if your political ideology prevents you from admitting that women hit men, you can scarcely deliver the message to women “don’t hit first.” Predictably, Biden doesn’t.
So Biden, while proudly wearing the mantle of fearless crusader for women’s safety, actually exacerbates the problem he pretends to address. And that again is in addition to his cheerful acceptance of violence by women against men.
The fact is that, like so much of the DV establishment, Joe Biden is all about political ideology, while actually doing something to reduce domestic violence comes in a distant second on his list of priorities.
And, bad as all that is, it’s actually worse. That’s because, as essentially all family attorneys know and as some social science affirms, it’s claims of domestic violence more than any other factor that serve to separate fathers from their children. For about two decades now, we’ve been hearing from experienced family attorneys that claims of DV are routinely made for the sole purpose of gaining an advantage in custody cases. The overwhelming majority of those claims are made by mothers against fathers and as many as 70% of them are considered to be false by custody evaluators involved in the cases.
But the fact is they work, and they’ll continue to be used to cut fit, loving fathers out of their children’s lives until family courts start (a) requiring real evidence of DV before they issue an order limiting a father’s contact with his child and (b) punishing false or frivolous claims.
Frivolous claims? Those are the ones that are based on behavior that, in a rational world, would never be permitted to deny a child the love, protection and guidance of its father. Here’s a quotation from the Seattle Weekly article on which I did a couple of pieces recently.
[Attorney Jan] Dyer calls domestic violence her “specialty,” though she says many of her clients don’t walk in the door thinking they’ve been victimized. “I try to educate,” she says. Domestic violence sometimes “isn’t the kind of horrific violence we all think about. It might be a shove or a head-butt.” Or, she says, “when they’re so close to you, you can see spit.”
“You have to dig,” she continues. “Most people don’t want to admit that domestic violence has ever happened to them. When I identify blocking a doorway as domestic violence, they’re shocked.”
You get the picture. Women walk into Dyer’s office not believing they’re victims of domestic violence and leave convinced they are. Their belief is much encouraged by the fact that alleging DV on the part of their husband will go a long way to get them what they want – sole custody of the child.
And, with Dyer’s “education” of them, it’s not as if they’re lying in court. According to what family courts routinely accept as domestic violence, few people of either sex can honestly claim to be innocent. “He blocked the doorway.” That’s enough to lose a father his child and a child its father in the courts that never stop telling us they’re doing it all “in the best interests of the child.”
Once such an allegation is made, the whole machinery of anti-father bias in family court creaks into action. First, he’s ordered to have no contact with his child and to stay away from his home and his wife. Second, the entire future of his custody case just got a lot more expensive. Does he want a continuing relationship with his child? Well, he needs to rebut the DV claim. How does he do that? He needs to hire a lawyer and pay for a professional to evaluate him, his home situation, etc. That may take weeks with multiple interviews. The chances are the court will appoint a guardian ad litem to make sure the mental health professional gets it right.
Add up all those fees and you have a price tag that very few fathers can afford to pay. During all that, Dad likely knows, and his attorney has told him, that the outcome is probably pre-ordained anyway, so paying the freight to fight it would be money wasted.
And, very much like the clockwork cuckoo referred to above, the famly court will spit out yet another ”agreed” order for Dad to have little or no contact with his child. Another child, another woman protected from another brutal father who, at any time, might (gasp!) block another doorway.
If we’re ever to convince family judges to see sense about custody cases, we’re going to have to keep public figures like Joe Biden from spreading disinformation about domestic violence.